The WeatherElement Story
I've had one personal weather station or another for maybe 25 years, and I've been putting its data on my popular local weather site, www.sloweather.com, for over 10 years. A few years ago, we gave my parents their own Davis Instruments weather station for Christmas. Dad put it up in the backyard, and it wasn't too long before Mother was asking for a web site for it like mine.
From building SLOweather.com, I knew that putting up a "live" weather web site takes a lot of work, expense, and knowledge in everything from serial ports to software installation to getting a domain name and web hosting, FTP setup and HTML programming. It also included running a local computer 24 hours every day. My parents had none of these prerequisites, or the interest in acquiring them. They just wanted to see their backyard weather on the Internet.
Over the next few months, I tried several different ideas to get the data out of their station and then to my house for the web magic. Nothing I tried was easy or stable enough.
Somewhere in the process, I began to realize that there was a product and service here that was clearly needed. I'm active on several weather forums on the Internet, and there are always people joining them that want to have their own weather station and weather site on the Internet, but, like my parents, didn't know how to do it. Some people want their back yard weather, some want weather information for commercial use like agriculture or outdoor sports, and some need it for public safety, like local fire departments. The common thread was that they wanted their own weather on a web page, without all of the hassles.
I started to think of all of the needs such a product/service would have, using my parents as the model, and my experience as a guide. First, on the customer's hardware end, it had to be "Plug and Play" simple. Something to plug the weather station into, to connect to their home network, and to power. No configuration, it should just work. As soon as power was applied, the device should start getting data from the weather station and uploading the data to a server.
Then, customer setup on the web site should be as easy as any other on-line order. Click a few clicks, enter some registration info, pick a password, and, there's your weather information on your own live weather web page.
I rounded up some programmers, and, within a couple weeks of building a demonstration web server and selecting a hardware platform, we had a running service that was uploading data into a database, and some rudamentary pages to display that data.
WeatherElement was born...
Well, not quite. It took a while longer to come up with the WeatherElement name and logo. And, it took longer than I thought to build the rest of the back end.
Now that we've launched, we're constantly working on improving WeatherElement.com, everything from the speed of the page loads, to extra content, to weather stamps you can put on any of your web sites. I hope that you like WeatherElement.com and find its services useful. If you have any suggestions for improvements or added features, please let us know. Chris